Extreme dieting is incredibly common yet we often don’t believe we are acting in an extreme way. If someone had asked me a few years ago if I had ever yo-yo dieted, I would have said no, I felt like I knew what yo-yo dieting looked like, and this wasn’t me!
I was very, very wrong.
Since the age of 13 I have been on at least FIVE branded diets, and counted calories the rest of the time. The only time I can remember in the past 16 years, that my weight has not been an issue was when I was trying to get pregnant. My focus was entirely on something else, and my weight stabilised for a few months.
Maybe you think my story is very extreme, or perhaps you are thinking ‘Pah I have been on way more diets than Melanie AND for longer…’. My lifestyle was extreme, and I know there are many women out there who have been through the same process, women who are still going through the process. We are making it worse for ourselves.
Dieting makes us fat.
Don’t believe me? Just recently The New York Times released the article about The Biggest Loser contestants who had not only gained weight back, some had gained more weight AND they found it more difficult to lose weight after the show. This ‘research’ is based on a few contestants and let me be honest – this information is NOT new. There are people in the health industry who have known this for many years, and they are trying to communicate this to us.
So why don’t we know about it?
We don’t believe them! It really is that simple. We hear that you don’t need to count calories to the point of stress, or workout to the point of exhaustion, and we question it. We question the idea that fat loss could indeed be a pleasant strategy, we question it because for decades we have been taught that extreme dieting is the ONLY way to happiness.
I am telling you upfront that this method is flawed and if we continue to repeat the same cycle – we will remain overweight. Even if we lose weight, if we do it quickly, or in an extreme manner we will likely regain the weight and more. Why? Calorie counting, and traditional diets [reduced calories, increased exercise] teach us nothing about WHY we over or under eat.
Traditional diets don’t teach you:
- How to manage a craving
- How to choose a meal that will keep you full for FOUR hours or longer
- How to read through the marketing BS on labels
- How to live your life without the need for a ‘plan’
- How to feel less stressed by your body
- How to feel less stressed by food
- That there is more to life than the number on the scale
Traditional diets teach you:
- To be disappointed when you don’t lose weight
- To eat boring, plain, unexciting foods
- To constantly think about what you are eating
- To use exercise as a way of manipulating the scale
- That if you experience a craving you are not focused
- That if you are finding it tough or experiencing a plateau then you should REDUCE your calories and INCREASE exercise
- How to live an extreme lifestyle
Traditional diets should be teaching us what NOT to do.
Whilst we gain weight because we consume excess calories and don’t move enough – we know that if we ONLY change these TWO factors we can still be unsuccessful. There are many other factors that are not considered on traditional diets, like leisure, mindfulness and the levels of stress we are experiencing on a daily basis.
Stress is required for survival, that fight or flight response can be exhilarating – too much stress and we turn to food or drink, we lose sight of our goals and allow our emotions to determine our choices. Acute stress, think working out in shorter periods, can challenge your body and brain in a positive way. Too much stress, think marathon training, can over-stress our mind and body and result in cravings and weight gain.
In contrast leisure activities can counteract the impact of stress on our mind and body. Leisure walking each day even for a short period of time, allows you to relax, be mindful and perhaps give you time to not think about your weight or body! The bonus of leisure walking is that it has a direct impact on the levels of the hormone cortisol in your body – lower levels of this hormone can reduce cravings.
Mindfulness is probably my favourite and the most under utilised tool for fat loss. We spend so much of our time thinking about the future – when we will be thin, will we lose weight this week, have I restricted my calories enough – that we don’t consider our daily actions. Are our actions aligned with our goals, and is our reality a reflection of our focus? I like to call this the ‘are we there yet’ syndrome, each day we want to know when all this misery, disappointment and exhaustion will end. It ends when you decide that is not how you want to live your life, it ends when we say I’m tired of repeating the same thing and not getting a different outcome. Being mindful is going to teach you more about your story, why you over eat, why you are ashamed of your body, why you lack confidence and possibly why you struggle to make healthier choices. To be more mindful, you do have to address your excuses, you need to consider the excuses you make that keep you being comfortable with uncomfortable. We have choices everyday, change what we don’t like or accept it. Once you’ve decided to change it, then you are going to be open to learning.
My Four Pillar Formula, approaches fat loss using FOUR pillars; Meals, Exercise, Leisure and Mindfulness. It covers all areas, and allows you to figure out which area you should focus on first, it may be the one you want to focus on or the one you feel you have the least control over. Take each day as an opportunity to be successful, even the smallest action can have a huge impact on the outcome. Consider when you felt hungry, when you experienced a craving and whether your meals were satisfying, how stressed you felt and how energised you felt.
Allow yourself to consider a different approach to fat loss, just consider what your life might look like if you were no longer ‘on or off’ plan and were no longer stressed by food or your body. I’m not there yet, but I work on my strategy daily, I journal and I focus on how I feel and each day is a success!
Trying to have it all is freaking hard work! Trying to balance your own needs, with work, kids, spouse AND your health – it can feel like a constant battle.
I hear ya mama! This is the reason each week I send out a couple of emails to my VIP’s. They receive my best content straight to their inbox and are always the first to know about any exciting new projects or programs I’m running!
Want more? Join my VIP list now!
I don’t believe you need to diet to lose fat, in fact I actually love a quitter…I want you to quit dieting, because in the long-term, dieting is making us overweight.